SA won't take stance on Libya
Cape Town - The South African government has called for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Libya but on Wednesday stopped short of telling Muammar Gaddafi to step down.
Hundreds of people have been killed in a brutal crackdown as Gaddafi’s government sought to crush a massive protest against his regime.
Opposition groups in the country have put the death toll at 560 while the defiant president of 40 years on Tuesday night threatened to purge Libya "house by house" and "inch by inch" to quell dissent.
In the live speech, the 68-year-old former army colonel said: "Muammar Gaddafi is the leader of a revolution; Muammar Gaddafi has no official position in order for him to resign. He is the leader of the revolution forever."
The department of international relations and co-operation’s Clayson Monyela said that “it is the policy [of the] South African government not to dictate policy to a sovereign country”.
‘Authors of their own destiny’
When asked what the government’s stance was on the Libyan regime’s vicious suppression of its people, Monyela would only say: “The South African government condemns violence [and] calls for restraint.”
When asked if the government, like EU nations, was considering sanctions against the north African country, Monyela simply said that “people should be the authors of their own destiny” and repeated his statement that “South Africa does not dictate policy to sovereign countries”.
Meanwhile, it said that it was trying to secure the safe return of South African citizens to its shores. It said its main concern was two women who were stuck in transit from Dubai. Their passports had been taken away by their airline and the hotel they were at wanted to “kick out all the guests”, Monyela said.
Luckily, authorities managed to negotiate with staff to keep the hotel open.
He said that while the department is trying to bring citizens home, the safest place for them to be now is at the South African embassy. Officials there will advise them on what to do.
Follow Lauren on Twitter.